Heavy rail and not high speed rail is the answer for San Joaquin Valley regional mass transit needs.
That’s the premise behind an alphabet of SJ Valley counties and counties supporting Assembly Bill 1779 or the Intercity Passenger Rail Act of 2012 for the San Joaquin Corridor.
Manteca last week became the latest jurisdiction to jump on board the effort to create an independent authority to take over the administrative responsibility of the San Joaquin Valley Corridor from Caltrans.
The goal is to replicate the success of the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority created in 1996. That authority oversees the Capitol Corridor passenger train service that runs between Auburn and San Jose. It has been able to increase the number of daily service runs by 400 percent between Sacramento and Oakland. It was able to significantly build ridership due in a large part for the authority making the operation more cost effective and efficient to deliver what in 2011 was the best on-time performance in the nation for intercity passenger train service.
The San Joaquin Corridor service currently runs from Sacramento to Bakersfield. The closest stops are in Stockton and Riverbank as the line runs down Santa Fe tracks through Escalon.
Manteca is still on the radar for high speed train service via the Altamont Commuter Express that was the only other line able to compete for high speed rail funds in the $10 billion state bond measure passed by voters.
The high speed rail route will not connect to Sacramento initially. Instead it will run from Los Angeles to San Francisco via the Pacheco Pass. The second major segment could run tracks on two different routes through Manteca either up the existing Union Pacific corridor or an alignment just to the east of Austin Road.
Initially, the closest California High Speed Rail stops to Manteca would be Merced, San Jose, and San Francisco. If the complete system is ever built, there would be additional stops added in Modesto and Stockton.
A high speed ACE line - if it is built - is likely to go down the center of the 120 Bypass with a stop in Manteca before curving toward Modesto.